WASHINGTON – Democratic Party activists have started an online campaign to challenge the results of the election in Florida and claim the U.S. presidency for Al Gore.
Democrats.com is compiling statements from state residents who say a controversial ballot duped them into voting for the Reform Party’s Pat Buchanan instead of Gore.
“We’ve been collecting affidavits that may be used to file a lawsuit,” says Bob Fertik, the 43-year-old managing partner of Democrats.com. He registered a domain name, trustthepeople.com, that’s being used in the campaign after the inconclusive results in Florida.
Fertik, a veteran Democratic Party activist and consultant, says he has collected 54 affidavits via his website as of Thursday afternoon. “We’re delighted with 54, especially since we haven’t even publicized it yet. That was just word of mouth.”
He hopes the affidavits, which say “I believe that I mistakenly cast my vote for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore,” will be used in a lawsuit to demand another presidential vote in Palm Beach County.
William Daley, Gore campaign chairman, told reporters on Thursday that he plans to work “with voters from Florida to support a legal action to demand some redress for the disenfranchisement of more than 20,000 voters in the state of Florida.
“One federal lawsuit has been filed already by three miffed Palm Beach voters who unexpectedly withdrew it at a hearing Thursday afternoon in hopes of combining it with another lawsuit next week.
Another site, workingforchange.com, is agitating for a revote in Palm Beach – by flooding the mailbox of Florida state officials.
“Please use the full power of your office to call for a re-vote of the presidential race in Palm Beach County,” says the message, which visitors to the website can customize and send.
If repeated “Access Forbidden: Too many users are connected” errors were any indication, the site seems wildly popular.
One piece of widely circulated e-mail says: “To ask for the vote to be taken over again in Palm Beach, you can e-mail the Secretary of State of Florida, Ms. Katherine Harris, at email@example.com, and Florida’s Division of Elections.”
A successful lawsuit would have to argue that the design of the ballot, which listed Gore and Republican George W. Bush on the left and Buchanan on the right, violated Florida election law.
The 2000->Ch0101->Section%20191″>law suggests the design of a ballot in which all names are on the left and voters must “mark a cross (X) in the blank space at the right of the name of the candidate for whom you desire to vote.”
Now, the law doesn’t insist that the design has to be identical to the suggested ballot. It merely says “the general election ballot shall be in substantially the following form.”
That means attorneys for the Gore campaign or angry voters will have to argue over the meaning of the word “substantially.”